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A member of the United Arab Emirates’ ruling family has been detained while prosecutors investigate allegations that he tortured an Afghan grain dealer in 2004, according to a government statement issued Monday.
The allegations stem from a videotape of the 2004 assault that purportedly shows the detained man, Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan, beating the victim with a nail-studded wood plank, setting his genitals on fire, hitting him with a cattle prod, and repeatedly running him over with an SUV.
The video was broadcast by ABC Television on April 22. It sparked calls from human rights groups and some U.S. legislators for an official investigation.
The official statement said that the judicial department of Abu Dhabi, one of the UAE’s seven emirates, has transferred all documents relating to the incident to the Abu Dhabi Public Prosecution Office, which “has officially launched a criminal investigation into the events depicted on video, and detained Sheikh Issa bin Zayed Al Nahyan pending the outcome of this investigation.”
The victim, who survived the attack, was interviewed by the department’s human rights office, the statement said.
It added that the department’s action is meant “to ensure that all human rights obligations are met and enforced, that all national laws are applied equally and with transparency to all, and that the country continues in its efforts to respect the rule of law and ensure that all individuals in the Emirates are provided fair and equitable trials and have an opportunity to be heard."